Grotto Falls, Infra-Red by Lens Lugger John Schakel

Grotto Falls IR by John Schakel
Grotto Falls IR by John Schakel

Infra-Red Grotto Falls ©Photo by Lens Lugger John A Schakel Jr

Location:  Grotto Falls, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Gatlinburg TN
Camera Settings: Infra-Red (Standard Color IR – 720 nm) Modified Nikon D200 with Nikkor 24-210mm F3.6-5.6D Lens @ 24mm, ISO 100, Shutter 1/15s @F-22

About a year ago I had my Nikon D200 converted to Infra-Red camera by  I have been doing a little work with it but not liking what I was getting. offered a workshop in the Smoky Mountains run by Don Wampler of
I have taken other workshops for regular light photography and have always picked up a new trick or two from them. Since I know very little about Infra-Red Photography I thought this would be a good chance to learn more about it. I was not disappointed. Dan was very informative and I did learn a few new tricks that did improve my Infra-Red Photography.

Getting there…

After the workshop I spent 3 days doing other photography both with Infra-Red and natural light there in the Smoky Mountains. Several people in my camera club, Photographic Art Society of St Petersburg FL and headed by Jim Swallow, told me to check out the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail that starts and end at stop light #8 in Gatlinburg TN.  They said the scenery was great and worth the trip. While I was on the trail I saw the sign for Grotto Falls but there was no place to park due to all the people there.

I went back the next morning early. The hike to the Grotto falls is about 1.5 miles and most of it is uphill. It took me about and 1.25 hrs to get there. When I first got there it was crowded with about 30 people all over the place. As I looked around I saw that I need to get to the other side of the falls to get a good view of everything. It seemed everyone was taking selfies and you had to stop and wait for them to get done so you could move on.

When I got to the other side I saw the photo I wanted. I set up on the rocks next to a trail leading from the Grotto. I must have waited a good 20 to 30 minutes before people started to leave. Just as everyone was leaving a senior couple came and sat on the rocks in front of me, in the middle of my foreground, then started eating some trail mix. I was just about to give up and then realized that they made my shot.

Post Production of Nikon Raw

I shoot all my photos in Nikon RAW. To process the Infra-Red Raw photo I first open it in Nikon Capture NX2 (16 bit). I then made a few adjustments, exposure, contrast, brightness. I then transferred it to PhotoShop CC (16 bit) were I was able to make more adjustment and convert it to Black & White. After I sharpen it I then converted it to 8 bit and JPG for printing.

The final photo has not been cropped. What you see is what I saw in the camera when I took the photo. I always try to crop my photos in the camera. It saves time and effort in post production.

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